Aviation safety investigations & reports

Cessna Aircraft Company A185E, VH-HTS

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


Download Final Report
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On Sunday, 26 July 1998, at about 1324 EST, a Cessna A185E floatplane, VH-HTS, crashed onto a ridge forming the southern shore of Calabash Bay NSW. The accident occurred during a go-around manoeuvre following an unsuccessful landing approach to the Berowra water alighting area. At the time of the accident the Calabash Bay area was affected by strong winds, widespread rain and showers, low cloud, and reduced visibility. The aircraft was operated by South Pacific Seaplanes and was undertaking a charter flight from Palm Beach to Berowra. All five occupants, including the pilot, suffered fatal injuries. The aircraft was destroyed by impact forces.

The investigation found that the circumstances of the accident were consistent with uncontrolled flight into terrain. The decision by the pilot to carry out a go-around into a confined area surrounded by steep-sided terrain was the culminating factor in a combination of local factors, organisational deficiencies and inadequate safety defences. Local factors included poor weather conditions, a lack of formal procedures to provide safe methods of operation, and commercial pressures. Organisational deficiencies were identified within South Pacific Seaplanes concerning the management and conduct of charter operations carried out by that company, and in the safety regulation of those operations by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

During the investigation a number of safety deficiencies were identified. Safety actions to address those deficiencies are currently being formulated by the Bureau of Air Safety Investigation. A description of those deficiencies, and corresponding safety actions, will be summarised in section 4 of the final report.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 977KB]
General details
Date: 26 July 1998   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1325 hours EST    
Location   (show map): Calabash Bay    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Loss of control  
Release date: 25 February 1999   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 185  
Aircraft registration VH-HTS  
Serial number 18501835  
Type of operation Charter  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Palm Beach, NSW  
Departure time 1309 hours EST  
Destination Berowra Waters, NSW  
Crew details
Role Class of licence Hours on type Hours total
Pilot-in-Command Commercial 53.7 1270
  Crew Passenger Ground Total
Fatal: 1 4 0 5
Total: 1 4 0 5
Last update 13 May 2014